It's not a cruise ship, but we'll take what we can get. A couple weeks ago the HMS Protector dropped by for a visit, in the midst of some pretty nasty weather. In spite of the blowing snow and rain, we piled into our Zodiacs to go out and say hello.
In comparison to our wee little LMG, this thing was giant. I've been so accustomed to the cramped rear deck of the LMG that I'd had no idea what something with a really spacious area can feel like. They could easily play two or three games of basketball out here when all the stuff is cleared away, and from talking to some of the mates, they often do.
|The joke onboard was that the crane was their primary weapon.|
The bridge was similarly proportioned, very well equipped and exceedingly comfortable. These settings would have been just as reasonable on a good cruise ship, and on a warship they were almost out of place.
Below decks was similar, clean and orderly but somehow a touch more upscale than you would expect.
In a break from Naval tradition, this is one of the few British Naval ships where Officers and Enlisted personnel eat in the same area, at the same time. The Captain and XO do have their own unofficial designated seats, but besides them the dining area is open, friendly, bright and as with the rest of the ship, much nicer than you would expect.
|Complete with the seemingly mandatory fake plants|
Once we got a little deeper into the ship, things began to look more like what I was expecting. As this is a ship of the British Navy, and officially classified as a warship, they do have a contingent of Royal Marines on board, and all the goodies that they would need for some small land operations.
|Man, other kid's toys are always better than ours.|
On one of the lower decks, arranged between the various cargo pallets and shipping containers, there were scattered bits of recreational equipment. It seems that having an actual road bike with a little treadmill doohicky on the back is probably much lighter and easier to move than the stationary bikes we have in our gym on station.
From talking to the sailors, this ship is a highly, highly coveted assignment, especially among the enlisted men. The living standards are much more comfortable than on a typical Navy ship, there's only two people to a room instead of the typical 10-40 that you might find on many other vessels. The recreation opportunities are ample, it's spacious and most work a four weeks on/two weeks off rotation. This crew obviously took pride in their ship.
|Looking back at station from one of the upper decks. Glorious, typical Antarctic weather.|
And because this was, of course, the British Navy, what was the next mandatory course of action? It was time to have tea and biscuits, because even in this frozen ocean, they still remember what proper civilized people do.
|Man I don't even LIKE tea, but I will drink some just to say that I had tea on a British Navy ship.|
|THIS is what the Navy is like?! I thought it was all swabbing poop decks and people yelling at you.|
|A classic game that is apparently the cause of, and resolution to, many small and not-so-small disputes on board.|
We were there guests for the better part of an hour as they showed us around and socialized a bit. All of us were very impressed with the ship; it was obviously very well appointed and designed with it's task in mind. And frankly, if THIS was what service in the British Navy was like? I might have to learn the Queen's English and sign up.